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How To Shoot The Course


Many newcomers notice the practice area, with the shooting line and targets at a variety of distances, but the main event at our range is the field archery course. We have a full 42-target course that supports simultaneously a field, hunter, and animal round. The course is divided into 3 parts, and each part is assigned one of the three rounds.

In practice, you can shoot the course however you please, so long as you stay in the shooting lanes and limit each target to 4 shots, and follow typical archery safety rules; but here I will talk about how the course is used for the game of field archery.

The 3 rounds

The course of 42 targets is divided into 3 14-target rounds: The field round, the hunter round, and the animal round. Each round is strictly defined by the NFAA (National Field Archery Association) to have a fixed set of shooting distances and target faces. Our full course is set up according to NFAA standards for the 3 rounds. Which round is located on which 3rd of the course depends on the time of year, and will be rotated periodically. This keeps it interesting. The exact list of all the targets and the distance markers, is shown in our Course Stakes table.

Throughout the course, at every target, there are a variety of marked shooting positions. The shooting positions have a base color (white, red, blue, black) and a number. The color identifies the type of round the marker is used for, and the number is the distance, usually in yards, to the target.

The Field Round

The field round is identified by the target face in use. The field target face has a black spot, a white "4"-ring, and a black "3"-ring. There is also an "X"-ring inside of the spot that can be counted and used for tie-breakers. When shooting a field round, you shoot from white markers. In most cases you shoot 4 arrows from one marker, but in a few cases there are 4 markers in a fan (the same distance but different position) or in a walk-up arrangement. In these cases, shoot one arrow from each marker.

You may notice that in the field round, all the distances are even multiples of 5 yards (except the "birdie", which is multiples of 5 feet) and that makes preparing for a field round a little simpler. A field round is about testing consistency. A perfect field round is 280 points.

A note on alternate "expert" scoring: There are two alternative scoring methods, that we do not generally use. Method #1 uses the "X"-ring as 6 points. So the possible scores are 6-5-4-3, and a perfect round is 336 points. Method #2 uses the pro rings that are scribed in the field target face. The "X" and "5"-rings are scored a 5, then the inner half of the white ring is 4, the outer half of the white is 3, then 2, then 1 points. That's what those extra rings on a field face are for, although typically for Redwood Bowmen club shoots we do not use those methods.

The Hunter Round

The hunter round target face has a white spot, a black "4"-ring, and a black "3"-ring. Again, there is also an "X"-ring inside the spot that can be counted and used for tie-breakers. When shooting a hunter round, you shoot from red markers. As will a field round, each hunter target gets 4 arrows, but many more of the hunter round targets are walk-ups or fans. The challenge here is that all the distances are "odd" (not multiples of 5) and in most cases you have to shoot from a different position (fan) or distance (walk-up) so a hunter round is about being able to note a distance to a target, and use that information to know how to aim. A perfect hunter round is 280 points.

The Animal Round

And here is where scoring gets interesting. The animal round target face is a picture (or outline) of an animal of some sort, with some scoring lines. There is a dot, a "vitals" line, and a "fur" or "wound" line. With the field and hunter rounds, you shoot 4 arrows at every target, but animal rounds are more interesting. You shoot no more than 3 numbered arrows. Shoot your first arrow from the farthest shooting position. If you hit the animal ("wound" or better) then you are done. If you miss, step to the next shooting position and shoot your second arrow. Again, if you hit the target, you are done, or you step up and shoot your third, your last, arrow. Your arrows were numbered so that if you shot multiple arrows, you can tell the order that they were shot.

Animal rounds are shot from yellow markers. The larger targets are shot from farther away, and are 3 position walk-ups. The smaller targets are shoot from closer, and there is only a single position where all 3 arrows are shot from.

Scoring an animal round is interesting. You only score one arrow, the first arrow to hit, and you score it according to this table:
 Arrow dot vital wound
 1 21 20 18
 2 17 16 14
 3 13 12 10

As you can see, it is much better to hit the target on your first shot. The more shots it takes, the lower the score you get for that hit. A "hit" on the first arrow scores better then a dot on the second shot. This round really tests your ability to take the information you have (the distance and the shape of the target) and use it to get that first shot right.

Safety and Etiquette

  • No back-tracking! Go forward, even if you've had enough shooting and your trying to escape. Back-tracking will bring you behind targets, and someone might be shooting there. Bad! Safety!
  • No parking! This is where you shoot the same target over and over again. No. Don't. This wears out the bales (and target faces) and also interferes with those who are playing by the rules and going forth. (The 100yd target is an exception to the no-parking rule.)
  • 4 arrows max! This is related to the "no parking" rule. Don't wear down our bales on the course, they are a lot of work to replace. Do your practicing and sighting in on the practice range. The bales and targets are easier to change there.
  • No alcohol/drugs on the course. Do I really need to say why this is a rule? Seriously?
  • No high-draw. Draw your bow on target. If you high draw (draw above where you need to aim, then lower your bow to the target) and the bow mis-fires, arrows land in random and scary places. One unlucky high-draw can be the end of the range.
  • NO SMOKING! High fire risk all year round, and a source of litter. Also, park rules.

Some Jargon

Want to sound like a pro while on the course? Here is some commonly used jargon you'll hear on the range and course.
  • SPOT - This is the bullseye (including the X) of a field or hunter target, or the bonus dot on an animal face. "I got 2 arrows in the spot at the 20yd target." Don't call it a bullseye; that's strictly bush-league;-)
  • STAKES - These are the shooting position markers. Sometimes they are literal stakes, but at our range they are concrete markers.
  • CALLING ARROWS - Using binoculars to tell the shooter where where each arrow lands. "I'll call your arrows for you." "Can you call my arrows for me?"
  • N-O'CLOCK IN THE N-RING - This is how you tell someone where an arrow landed on a field or hunter target. e.g. "That last shot was 3-o'clock in the 4-ring" or "12-oclock in the 3-ring."
  • WALK-UP - The target has consecutive shooting positions, each closer then the previous. For example there is a "45yard walk-up" on all field courses.
  • FAN - On a field or hunter round, a fan is 4 different shooting positions with the same distance.
  • BIRDIE - The tiny target in the field or hunter that is shot from close up.
  • PRO RING - The field target 4 and 3 rings have extra lines that divide the rings in half. In some variants of the game, these are used to divide the face into 5-4-3-2-1 scoring areas. Normally, when we say "in the pro ring", we mean the inner part of the 4 ring. If we say ON the pro ring, we mean the line that separates the inner and outer 4-ring.
  • DROPPED SHOTS - when you get to the point where most of your shots score, then you'll say that you "dropped that shot" when you missed the scoring surface. That usually means that you missed because of some obvious error on your part. "Damn! My fingers slipped and I dropped that shot."
  • CLEAN a target or CLEAN a course - To clean a target is to shoot all spots on a target: 20 points. To clean a round is to shoot all spots on the entire round: 280 points in 14 targets. "I cleaned the 15 and 20yd targets today!" We also say "I 20'ed this target."